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Gilyard Faces More Charges

A former Baptist pastor in Jacksonville, Fla., previously charged with lewdness in connection with text messages he allegedly sent to a teenager now faces two additional charges, including one that he fondled a child.

Darrell Gilyard, former pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, pleaded not guilty in February to soliciting a person under 16 years old to commit a lewd act by sending her lewd text messages and requesting for her to send him lewd text messages back.

Local media reported that last week Gilyard also pleaded not guilty to a second count of lewd conduct and one count of lewd or lascivious molestation. Gilyard’s appearance in court last Thursday was his first since his arrest in January.

While Gilyard’s large, predominantly African-American former church is not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, as a young preacher Gilyard was a rising star in the predominantly white-SBC. His mentors included Paige Patterson, then president of Criswell College in Dallas and now president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Jerry Vines, the now-retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Both men later became SBC presidents.

Patterson recently labeled a victim-support group “evil doers” and “just as reprehensible as sex criminals” after they accused him of turning a blind eye to allegations against Gilyard in the 1980s and 1990s. In February the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests asked Patterson to apologize for the remark. SNAP previously asked Southwestern Seminary trustees to suspend Patterson and investigate his handling of the Gilyard situation.

The SBC Executive Committee is studying the feasibility of a national database of clergy sex offenders in response to a motion referred by last year’s convention.

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaiy.com.